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5 Routes the Golden Knights Could Take on Trade Deadline Day

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Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

After an eventful Saturday evening, NHL Trade Market has suddenly come to a halt and things are quiet. We have seen big trades such as the Florida Panthers acquisition of former Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. The Anaheim Ducks have traded away Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm, and Nicolas Deslauriers. But the Vegas Golden Knights have been absent in the trade department, at least for now.

With the team starting to rebound from an ugly 4-9-1 stretch, general manager Kelly McCrimmon has an interesting challenge at this year’s deadline. Not has his team been struggling on the ice but off the ice, he has seven injuries to deal that make up $46 million against the salary cap.

Then, there is the continuous dynamic of fitting it all underneath the cap as the Golden Knights are projected to be over by $9.3 million when fully healthy (if that time ever comes).

McCrimmon will have plenty of options at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Here are five routes he could take, ranked from most likely to least likely.

1- Nothing

The Golden Knights may take the pacifist route this season given where they currently lie in the standings. For the first time in franchise history, playoffs are not guaranteed. The Golden Knights are currently holding onto the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Injuries have played a big factor in the outlook of the team this season. With seven regulars missing, it has been hard for head coach Peter DeBoer and co. to truly get a feel for what this roster can do.

Just when it seems like a line of Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty will form, a player or two goes down and all of a sudden Nicolas Roy is playing on the top line.

McCrimmon has already made perhaps the biggest trade of the NHL season by acquiring Eichel in early November. He has still yet to see what this team is fully made of.

With playoffs not guaranteed, perhaps McCrimmon takes the route of sitting back and observing instead of buying at this year’s deadline, as players coming back from injury can be additions in themselves.

2- Free Up Some Cap

As stated earlier, the Golden Knights are projected to be over the NHL salary cap by $9.3 million when every player comes back from injury. They are currently utilizing LTIR with both Stone and Alec Martinez joining prospect Jake Bischoff on the reserve.

This has worked for the Golden Knights in terms of temporarily freeing up cap for Eichel, but you would think the VGK would want both Stone and Martinez back for the playoffs.

There is the likely possibility the Golden Knights will “Nikita Kucherov” the system and keep Stone, Martinez, and potentially others on LTIR until the playoffs start. Going over the salary cap is not penalized in the playoffs. But McCrimmon could take a safer approach and free up cap space the old-fashioned way with a trade at the deadline.

The recent play of Evgenii Dadonov has seemed to take him out of the trade rumor mill as he has five goals in his last six games. Or has this just increased his trade value? Pending UFA Reilly Smith has also been speculated to be on the move as he carries a $5 million cap hit. Smith is currently injured.

Mattias Janmark and Laurent Brossoit at around $2 million, William Carrier and Nolan Patrick at just over $1 million, and even Alec Martinez at $5.25 have all been names thrown out there as well.

3- Go for a Goalie

The recent play of Logan Thompson has made the Golden Knights goaltending situation more interesting than it was- say a week ago. Thompson has had two stellar performances against both the Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings.

With Robin Lehner currently injured, this is exactly what the Golden Knights needed.

Thompson might be staying in the NHL after all with Lehner’s injury giving him the prime opportunity to end his AHL career and never look back. This could mean bad news for backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who is the more expensive goaltender to keep.

There have also been rumblings about the Golden Knights grabbing a goalie on the trade market. Sources have told Vegas Hockey Now that the Golden Knights are interested in New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Joonas Korpisalo, Jake Allen, and Alexander Georgiev have also been linked to the Golden Knights. All of these goaltending decisions will rely on the status of Lehner.

4- Something Insane

The Golden Knights, despite being in the league for under five years are no stranger to making insane blockbuster moves. Just look at some of the names that are on the current roster with Stone, Eichel, Pacioretty, Lehner, and even Shea Theodore coming over in big deals.

Even though Giroux, perhaps the biggest name on the board, has been traded, there is no shortage of big names on the NHL trade market. Jakob Chychrun, JT Miller, Filip Forsberg, and old pal Marc-Andre Fleury are all on the list of names that will potentially be on new teams by tomorrow.

With the Golden Knights in danger of missing the playoffs, perhaps McCrimmon looks at his team as needed a boost and could add a big name at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. There is an extensive history of the Golden Knights making blockbuster deals at the deadline with Stone, Lehner, Martinez, and Janmak all arriving via the deadline.

5- Sell

It may seem outlandish to suggest that a team that is contending for the Stanley Cup in the Golden Knights would sell off assets at the deadline. But this would not be the first time the Golden Knights have done so. Although it was mostly for cap reasons we have seen the VGK trade away players like Fleury, Ryan Reaves, and Cody Eakin.

Smith and Dadonov’s names resurface here as players with high contracts that could be dealt to contending teams for assets and cap space. Smith is a pending UFA as well.

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